Whether you opt for something fancy like a pair of panniers or you just like to carry a backpack with you, most cyclists carry some sort of bike bag with them when they go out for a ride. While almost all the cyclists that I know carry some sort of toolkit as part of their bike bag, a surprising number of people only use it for carrying their wallet and laptop!
So, rather than just carrying a bag for the bag’s sake, what should you actually be keeping in it, and why?
A multitool is probably the best starting place when it comes to kitting out your bike bag. Sure, you could get some more specialised bike repair tools (and I definitely recommend that you do later down the line), but for a beginning bag, a multitool will suit you just fine. You can use a multitool to tighten all the bolts on your bike, and you can even pick up varieties that will help you to change out your chain if it breaks or is damaged.
Tube & Patches
Punctures and damaged tyres are a fact of life for all cyclists, so it should come as no surprise that I’m recommending that you include at least one spare tube and puncture repair patches in your bag. A small repair kit will save you from a healthy dose of embarrassment when you have to try and hitchhike with your bike after blowing a tyre.
Just like with carrying a repair kit and spare tube, carrying a pump is pretty essential when it comes to dealing with problems on the road. While you should make sure to check your tyres before setting off on a journey, sometimes you can miss a slightly deflated tyre that only gets worse as you ride on it more. A pump will let you hop off your bike and get things back in action in no time at all. Much better than the alternative of pushing your bike the rest of the way.
Carrying some lights with you is obviously important when you travel at night, but it can also be a really valuable tool when you set off in the daytime. Not only do they help to make you more visible in the dark or poor conditions, you’ll also be glad to have one if you end up facing difficulties during your travel that result in you being out later than expected.
Just like with lights, carrying waterproofs can be good practice even if it is not expected to rain when you head out. There is nothing worse than being caught in a major downpour while you’re still some distance away from your destination. Waterproofs aren’t particularly heavy, so you won’t suffer from carrying them if you don’t use them – but you’ll be incredibly thankful that you had them when it starts to rain.
Taking your bike out without a good bike lock is basically asking for trouble, especially if you plan to leave it parked outside your office and unattended all day. A decent bike lock won’t cost you much and they’re not that heavy, so there is really not much of a reason to not take one with you wherever you go.
Heading out to buy all this equipment might seem like it’d get a little expensive, but there are lots of ways to save on bikes and bike gear online. Once you’ve got yourself nice and kitted out with a good bike bag, you’ll be ready for any situation on the road.